Police: Hotel altercation sparked Vegas shooting, crash

Published: Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013 10:23 p.m. CDT
Caption
(AP)
Smoke and flames billow from a burning vehicle following a shooting and multi-car accident early Thursday on the Las Vegas Strip. The strip became a scene of deadly violence early Thursday when, authorities say, someone in a black Range Rover opened fire on a Maserati, sending it crashing into a taxi that burst into flames, leaving three people dead and at least six injured.

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Bullets were flying from a black Range Rover at a gray Maserati as the vehicles raced toward a red light on the Las Vegas Strip.

Beneath the neon lights, police say, the Maserati ran a red light at one of the Strip’s busiest intersections and smashed into a taxi that exploded into flames early Thursday, killing the two people inside.

Three more cars and a utility truck collided at the crossroads home to Bellagio, Caesars Palace and Bally’s, leaving at least six more people injured as the Range Rover sped off in the predawn darkness.

The Maserati driver was pronounced dead at a hospital.

The dramatic scene that more than one tourist compared to something out of a violent action movie set off a frantic search for the occupants of the Range Rover and marked the latest violent episode on the Strip since the beginning of the year.

Two people were critically wounded in a shooting at a parking garage on Feb. 6, and a tourist was stabbed last Saturday in an elevator at The Hotel at Mandalay Bay.

Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie told reporters several hours after Thursday’s attack that it was sparked by an argument in the valet area of the nearby Aria hotel-casino, and that the violence at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo Road did not reflect the values of Las Vegas residents or visitors.

“What happened will not be tolerated,” Gillespie said. He promised the shooters would be “found and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

On the Strip, the fiery rampage shocked tourists.

“This doesn’t happen where we come from, not on this scale,” said Mark Thompson, who was visiting from Manchester, England, with his wife. “We get stabbings, and gang violence, but this is like something out of a movie. Like ‘Die Hard’ or something.”

Police said they were contacting authorities in three neighboring states about the Range Rover Sport with dark tinted windows, distinctive black custom rims and paper dealer ads in place of license plates that fled the scene about 4:20 a.m.

In Southern California, the California Highway Patrol alerted officers in at least three counties to be on the lookout for the SUV.

Las Vegas Police Sgt. John Sheahan said the Range Rover was last seen near the Venetian resort as it headed north from the shooting scene on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Witnesses also told police the SUV and Maserati had come from the nearby CityCenter area, the home of Aria just south of the site of the attack.

“We have numerous witnesses to this,” Sheahan said. “But what is the genesis of this? We don’t know yet.”

Police said the driver and passenger in the taxi were killed. The male driver of the Maserati also died, and his passenger was shot. Police did not release their names citing the ongoing investigation.

The crumpled, gray sports car, which had no license plates, came to rest several feet away from the incinerated taxi.

“The people I feel sorry for are the people in the taxi,” said Elvina Joyce, a tourist from Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. “Seconds made all the difference in the world for them. Wrong place, wrong time.”

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